Women Lawyers in Tax: Q&A with Anna Malazhavaya, Sole Practitioner at Advotax Law

  • May 30, 2020
  • Rachel Gold

Anna Malazhavaya is a sole practitioner and the face behind a tax boutique firm, Advotax Law. Anna spent the first 10 years of her career working in a Canadian national firm and a smaller tax law firm, before she eventually transitioned to running her own practice. Here’s our Q&A:

Hi Anna, I hope you and your family are keeping well in these strange and uncertain times. I have a handful of questions to get to know you better and to learn about your unique experiences as a woman in tax law. Our intention is to give other lawyers and law students insight into potential career choices in tax law and words of advice on how to build a successful tax practice. Let’s get started.

Hi Rachel, thank you very much for this opportunity.

Can you describe your career progression in tax law, including why you chose tax law or did it choose you?

I was a foreign-trained commercial lawyer and a new immigrant from Belarus when I started Osgoode Hall Law School in 2004. My adjustment to Canada and Canada’s system of law was not easy (as Belarus is a civil law jurisdiction), but Osgoode’s tax law courses quickly became my favourite courses. The professors were fantastic. After my second year at Osgoode, I was fortunate to summer at Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP’s tax group, and following that experience I knew I wanted to be a tax lawyer. Fast forward 10+ years, I am now a sole practitioner operating Advotax Law. I currently employ a law clerk and rent an office in Etobicoke, ON.

Please elaborate on what is the main focus of your tax law practice. If you had a pie chart, how would you apportion the slices of that pie (e.g., 50% tax litigation, 20% dispute resolution matters with CRA, 30% private enterprise tax planning)?

Before the COVID-19 situation, I’d say it was 40% tax litigation, 40% tax dispute resolution with the CRA, and 20% private company and international tax planning and advisory work. Currently, during this lockdown, while the Tax Court of Canada (TCC) is closed and Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) audit and appeals departments operate in a very limited capacity, it is 60% tax planning/advisory and 40% tax dispute resolution.